Ahead in the Polls, Hillary Clinton Embraces GOP Neocon War Hawks

Posted Aug. 17, 2016

MP3 Interview with Robert Parry, author, investigative journalist and editor of Consortium News, conducted by Scott Harris


After weeks of multiple gaffes and a continuing string of offensive statements, Donald Trump is fading in public opinion polls. Hillary Clinton, despite her own controversies, has been the beneficiary, with voter surveys finding that she's widening her lead in key battleground states and among many demographic groups. Trump's provocative positions have also had the effect of triggering disaffection among many Republicans. While a growing number of big-name Republicans have refused to support Trump, many have also taken the additional step of pledging their support to Clinton.

Among that group are prominent neoconservatives, who generally advocate the promotion of U.S. interests as they see it, through the use of military force. Clinton's neocon supporters include: Robert Kagan, co-founder of the neocon think tank, Project for the New American Century, that advocated for the Bush administration's decision to unilaterally invade Iraq in 2003. Others include Bush deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, former GOP national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, self-declared American imperialist Max Boot and John Negroponte, Reagan's ambassador to Honduras and Bush ambassador to Iraq, who served as the first director of National Intelligence 2005 to 2007.

When Clinton bragged about the praise she received from Republican President Nixon's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the Feb. 4 Democratic presidential debate, her then-opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders responded by saying he was proud to say that Henry Kissinger was not his friend and that he would reject advice from Kissinger. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with investigative journalist Robert Parry, editor of ConsortiumNews.com, who examines Hillary Clinton's embrace of neo-conservative supporters and what it may predict about her administration's foreign policy if she should win the presidency this November.

ROBERT PARRY:Hillary Clinton, who has a long history as a very hawkish politician supporting the Iraq war – not just in 2002 when she voted for it, but really until 2006 when it became a huge burden on her political ambitions if she wanted to run against and get the Democratic nomination in 2008. So she only really dropped her support for the Iraq War because of political needs. It wasn't as much that she felt it wa wrong, and she later – according to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his memoir – she even told President Obama in 2009 that the only reason that she and others opposed the so-called surge in Iraq was for political reasons.

She's taken these very hawkish position both before she ran for president and then as secretary of state. She adopted many of the more aggressive positions, often going against President Obama, who was more reluctant to expand or to continue some of these military adventures. She sided often with the hawks inside his administration. She then opposed him really on his efforts in even 2010 to work out a deal with the Iranians on their nuclear program.

Obama had reached out to the president of Brazil and the prime minister of Turkey to have them essentially arrange for the Iranians to surrender much of their nuclear uranium and it was Hillary Clinton who sabotaged that arrangement. She was again taking the side of the neocons who wanted to bomb Iran or at least continue to escalate those tensions. So she's had this position. She also joined with the hawks in 2009 seeking, pushing Obama into escalating the Afghan war, which Obama was very hesitant to do. He initially raised some of the troop levels when he came in, but then was hesitant to go to a counter-insurgency program, which she supported along with Gen. (David) Petraeus and defense secretary Gates, two sort of potentially holdovers from the Bush years.

So she continuously took these hawkish stances, and that has won the support of many key neocons, some of whom have abandoned the Republican party. People like Robert Kagan, who was one of the co-founders of the Project for the New American Century pushing for the invasion of Iraq, even in the 1990s and then continuing on into – when it finally happened under President George W. Bush. So she's won their support because they feel that of the various choices, she is the best vessel – as it was put in one New York Times article – the best vessel to carry their ambitions forward.

BETWEEN THE LINES:From Hillary Clinton's record in the U.S. Senate, and as secretary of state under President Obama, what are some of your big concerns about what foreign policy a Clinton presidency might pursue?

ROBERT PARRY:Well, she indicated during the last debate with Sen. Sanders as probably the best time to look at what she was staking out for her foreign policy. And it was very aggressive, very hawkish, it was neoconservative. For instance, her position on Libya as remained very hawkish. Her position regarding Syria is to intervene more directly militarily. Her position vis-a-vis the Palestinians is to take a very staunch pro-Israeli position regardless of what the Israelis are up to. Regarding the Russians, she has indicated a willingness to be much more aggressive vis-a-vis President Putin. So she's taken hawkish positions and she hasn't indicated that she's modified them. So one has to assume that they still are her positions.

BETWEEN THE LINES:It's been the track record of the U.S. peace movement after recent presidential elections where Democrats won the White House that peace activists have generally gone to sleep. They've gone into a deep, deep coma and not come out of the woodwork to protest or pressure the government in any way on their foreign policy choices. We've seen that under President Bill Clinton and we have certainly seen that with President Obama. What's the outlook for the peace movement if you have a hawkish President Hillary Clinton in office?

ROBERT PARRY: Well, that's a good question, Scott. One thing I have written about is the potential for the Democratic party to splinter because you have of the late 1960s, early 1970s when there was a stronger peace movement over the Vietnam War, and there was a break within the Democratic party over whether to support a more peaceful approach to that as some kind of negotiated settlement or to continue the warfare.

So I think there's a danger here that if Hillary Clinton does win the presidency and she does carry out a sort of neo-conservative foreign policy, what will the peace element of the Democratic party do? Will it continue to kind of, as you say, soft-pedal these complaints (and) concerns and try to make excuses for the Democrats as they expand or perpetuate these war policies? It's hard to say, because we obviously don't know what the future holds. But that is a potential danger for the Democratic party if Hillary Clinton governs along the lines of what she has advocated in terms of foreign policy.

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